VR: Is Touch The Missing Link In More Immersive VR?

April 28, 2017 - Written By Justin Diaz

Virtual reality headsets and really the technology as a whole are continuing to evolve to offer consumers newer and better experiences for what has become some of the most cutting edge entertainment technology available. With the likes of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive pushing the boundaries of virtual spaces and keeping users not only engaged but immersed in the content that they’re diving into, the VR industry seems ever more promising. That isn’t to say VR isn’t without its faults. While the games and other content that are already available are quite impressive, there is still a lack of a certain level of immersion. Not immersion in general, but better immersion. A VR experience that is even more life-like. With the recently announced VRgluv that’s now live on Kickstarter, the industry might just be getting a missing link in more immersive VR experiences thanks to the feeling of touch.

The VRgluv seeks to add the sense of touch to your virtual reality content, something which isn’t really available in any of the hardware you can go out today and buy. While all the most popular VR options now have controllers including the Vive, Rift, PSVR, Daydream View, and now even the latest Gear VR headset, those controllers don’t really do anything for immersing your sense of touch into the virtual space along with your visual and audio senses. That’s where VRgluv can essentially take over and bring another level of realism into the mix, by allowing users to basically feel things in VR as if they were interacting with them in the real world and not just in a virtual space.

According to the team behind the technology, the VRgluv will be able to give users the capability to essentially feel whatever objects they’re interacting with in their content. Some examples given include feeling the act of letting go of a virtual bowstring to shoot a virtual arrow. If you dig around in Steam or on the Oculus Store you’ll no doubt be able to stumble upon a game which places you in the shoes of an archer that will allow you to use a bow and arrow, but chances are you won’t actually be feeling the sense of touching the bowstring with your fingers, pulling it back, and letting the arrow fly as you aim it at your enemies.

That’s what VRgluv is basically promising, that you’ll be able to feel those types of instances. Now, these are just examples they’ve given as a proof of concept and there isn’t necessarily any content that you can already interact with that gives this sense of touch, especially since the Kickstarter project still has 27 days to go. Having said that the company has already reached their $100,000 goal and surpassed it with plenty of time left to acquire more funding, so there is a good shot at being able to pick the gloves up someday for those that are interested.

While the technology does sound promising there is a ways to go before it makes into the hands, or rather onto them, of consumers. Still there’s nothing quite like it at the moment that’s available. The gloves boast complete tracking of each individual finger and they build on that with force feedback and pressure sensitivity so that they’re able to tell which fingers on your hand are moving, how hard you’re squeezing them, and how much pressure you might be using to press something in the virtual world. While we might be a ways off from feeling a sense of cold on our fingertips in VR as we push a giant metal virtual door open, the gloves are at least attempting to close the gap a little by introducing the touch element. So imagine opening a door in virtual reality and actually feeling your hand press against it. It’s not going to bring us into a complete sensory immersion, but it’s certainly a step closer and it’s exciting to think about, especially if you’re particularly fond of virtual reality technology and its content.